October 17, 2010

Simplicity. Because the revolution will not be televised.

When my wife and I first moved into our hilltop home / retreat center amongst the farmland and forests of Eastern Slovenia, we left our T.V. behind.

Hills, forest, farmland; no tsunami!

We’d decided to simplify…

Our courtship was in an ashram, and the austerity of our lives there brought us face to face and heart to heart and soul to soul in ways that I had dreamt of, yet had not dared dream of.

Our courtship was unlike any other I had experienced – and I’d experienced many; mostly fast and furious, and without real substance. But meeting Petra was like tasting a fruit that I’d never heard of before; it was a totally new, fresh experience, that burst into my senses and spread through my body, mind, and spirit.

We spent 6 months getting to know each other the old fashioned way. Surrounded as we were by Swamis who had taken vows of renunciation (my intention on coming there was to become a Swami myself!) we couldn’t express our feelings for each other in a physical way; we couldn’t even hold hands there!

So we talked when we could, but mostly just ‘tuned in’ to each other’s energy, bathing in the electric awareness of loving presence that seemed to surround us whenever we happened to be in the same room.

It was a magical time; also frustrating as hell! Having grown up in a culture of microwaves, one-night stands, and instant coffee, it was the supreme lesson in patience that I unwittingly needed.

Our first ‘date’ was to the cinema, to see ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’, chaperoned at the last moment by a Swami who shuffled down the aisle, stepping over people’s legs in the semi-dark, in his orange robes with an orange knapsack, and pulling out a thermos flask to ask, grinning from ear to ear:


The soundtrack to our courtship was all Kirtan and Indian flute and tabla. And our shared favorite was “I am the eternal seeker of peace, love, and simplicity”. Those three words are on our wedding rings now, even if mine is somewhere in the Atlantic off the coast of the Algarve (long story, another time).

So when we moved in to our new house, we shed our television in the name of simplicity. And so I come to the point of this little story:

Soon after moving in, we met our postman for the first time. Please bear in mind that we live several hundred kilometers from the sea…

The postman sped up the steep hill and turned sharply into our driveway, sending gravel spinning in all directions. He huffed and puffed his way out of the van towards us, immediately sensing that he was stepping into a different world: Petra and I had just spent 2 hours meditating and practicing asanas and pranayama, and were feeling deeply mellow. He was on guard; this was unknown territory… he clocked our car; in those days a mobile advertisement for our yoga business.

He became visibly suspicious.

Handing us our post, he asked us about the car. We explained that we taught yoga, and he immediately asked us, rather indignantly – as if the very idea were some kind of travesty –  if we were vegetarian. When we replied that we were, he looked worried. He questioned us about protein, and didn’t look at all convinced.

Then he glanced at our house.

“You don’t have a t.v. antenna”

“No, we don’t need one, because we don’t have a t.v.”

Incredulous: “You don’t have a TV?!”

Smiling: “No!”

Wide eyed: “But what will you do” glancing furtively over his shoulder “if there’s a Tsunami”!

Now, I have no idea how he thought that a t.v. would help us if a Tsunami magically appeared on our hilltop above the clouds.

No idea. But I realized something very profound that day: Television makes people afraid, whilst reassuring them that they’re safe as long as they watch it…


If love is light, and fear is the shadow in which we all too often get lost, then television can be a serious obstacle between us and the light.

I’m not saying that you should trash the television: but watching it less never hurts, and awareness is all. Petra and I actually have t.v. in our home now; we use it mostly to watch dvd’s.

Bonus video, Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’:

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